Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 2:12-17
Let’s take another look at the Roman Triumph. There was the general in his chariot who led it, the laurelled victorious soldiers, the spoils of war, and then the sullen, broken captives who had been defeated in the battle. Amazing that the victorious and the defeated were in the same procession. One of the features of this triumphal procession would be the beautiful aroma of the incense as it was burned to the Roman gods to whom they ascribed victory.
To the victorious soldiers it was a pleasant aroma, but to the defeated, broken soldiers it was the aroma of defeat, failure and death.
Paul immediately likens this to the believer. The believer in Christ is a sweet aroma to God, and we are the fragrance of life both to those who are saved and those who are perishing. To one it is the fragrance of life leading to life, and to the other of death leading to death [verse 16].
Let’s consider four ways in which we are a sweet aroma to God:
Firstly, Christ in us! When Christ lives His life through us it is a sweet aroma that pleases God. The word fragrance is the Greek word osmēn. It is used of Christ, “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” [Ephesians 5:2]. As Christ lives in us we too become a pleasing aroma to God. It should be “no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me” [Gal. 2:20]
Secondly, Sacrificial generosity! Paul uses the same Greek word when he writes to the Philippians. The Philippians had very generously sent a love gift to Paul through Epaphroditus and he calls that gift a sweet smelling aroma [Philippians 4:18]. No wonder God met their need [Philippians 4:19].
Thirdly, Sharing the gospel! Paul writes about the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place! The Amplified Bible translates this as, “Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on his own triumphant way and makes our knowledge of him spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume” [2 Corinthians 2:14 Amp. Bible]. Paul was not only an aroma of Christ, but wherever Paul ministered the knowledge of Christ was manifested and resulted in transformed lives and the aroma spreading.
Fourthly, Prayer! In the Book of Revelation, we read that the prayers of the saints were mixed with incense and ascended to God [Revelation 9:3-4]. Can you imagine how beautiful the aroma of those prayers might be to God?
Is your life like a sweet aroma to God? Are there things that spoil the fragrance of Christ in you? What might those things be?
What does it, mean “It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me? [Gal. 2:20]